If you’re looking for cool Autumn-like weather, and the sight of flourishing English gardens from the masses amount of daily rain, then the Whitehouse-London annex is the place to visit in July! Seriously, I didn’t think it was possible to have summers cooler than Massachusetts, but then again the “New” England weather pattern probably originated from England so I guess it would make sense…or something like that. Mind you, I love rain. In fact, some of my best work (writing, cleaning, cooking) is done when it rains! However, I’ve just never seen so much precipitation (on a daily basis) as we have experienced here. We’ve come to the decision to trick our minds into thinking that it is a rainy brisk October so we won’t be disappointed with cold “summer” weather. (average daily high is about 60 degrees)
Sunday was the third sunny day since we arrived on June 29th, and it was a beautiful day indeed. Our outing selections that we talked about for the day were to either go to be The London Zoo or the Tower of London. Since the London Zoo would have run our family of three an $85 entry fee (no groupon discounts at the moment), we chose the Historic and fascinating Tower of London instead. Sure, there’s a price to pay for anything in this city, but yesterday’s deal (you know we love deals) was a real winner. For the small price of 83pounds(approx $120), we were able to buy a family season pass to enter 5 historic palaces as many times as we want in a 15 month period. (The actual deal online states the pass is good for 12 months, but if you pay with your local London debit card, which we now have, they offered you an extra three months….no brainer! The palaces included in the “scheme” are: Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, Hampton Court Palace, and The Banqueting House. It is a fantastic deal! Oh, and since the family pass was good for two adults and up to six kids, we now have 5 kids on paper. As an incentive for those of you with kids–come visit us, and the admission price for your children to any of the above castles is on us 😉
As you disembark from the Tower of London tube station, the massive stone tower sits among the hustle and bustle of the city streets and right on the north bank of the River Thames. It’s amazing to think of the long and grim history of this powerful fortress. We entered the Tower just in time for one of the famous Warder tours that run every hour. Red and gold historic uniform wearing Yeoman Warders, otherwise known as Beefeaters guard the tower’s walls and give fabulously animated tours. Our warder’s name was Steve, a boisterous Scotsman who gave a riveting guide that captivated even the youngest journeyer. Interesting factoids about the famous warders: to become a warder, one must have served in the British Armed forces for at least 22 years and earned long service and good conduct medals. They also must learn the Towers 900 year history. They live in the tower rent free. Royal Navy members are not eligible to apply.
The most famous tourist attraction at the Tower of London is the Crown Jewels which have been on display since the 17th century. We went through that exhibit and Zach found it quite hard to believe that all the jewels were REAL! Afterwards, we climbed the many stairs up to the White Tower, the oldest part of the fortress and walked around the armory section. We continued out journey along the walkway closet to the Thames, with beautiful views of the London Bridge. (Notice the Olympic rings suspended from the bridge in the pictures below)
As you walk amongst the property, you will notice perfectly tame ravens. These ravens have an interesting history. King Charles II decreed that six ravens be kept at the tower at all times, to prevent disaster. Legend has it that the kingdom and the tower will fall if the ravens ever leave the fortress. Today, the tower houses 7 ravens (six plus a spare) and one of the head warders is responsible for feeding them on a daily basis.
As we were heading out of the tower and walking through the crowded square towards the tube, I glanced over and saw the very familiar face of who I thought to be a little boy who I had in a class. I had no idea what his name was but he just had very recognizable features . My curiosity go the best of me and I just had to see if it was him. Walking up to his parents, I asked the boy if he attended Walsingham in Williamsburg and his face lit up. He even remembered me, which I couldn’t believe, given the fact that I only substituted for his class once–two years ago!
As with Ray’s daily commute, our touring came to an end as we hopped aboard the infamous “Hopper” bus to head home. Once again, another familiar face. It was the bus driver who bought a cup of lemonade from Zachary last week. We reminded him who we were and a big smile came across his face as he glanced down at Zach. Responding in broken English (what appeared to be an Eastern European accent) he said that he came back around on the hopper to get another cup of lemonade, but Zach had already disassembled his stand. “Next time, I buy two,” he exclaimed.
It was a great day of history with some added bonus of sunshine!